Safaricom finally says “jambo!” to Ethiopia

  • Safaricom has launched its services in Ethiopia after years of preparation.
  • Its mobile telecommunications network is now available in 11 cities across the Horn of Africa, with plans to expand to 25 by April 2023.
  • The launch of Safaricom Ethiopia has been backed by a telecom consortium, which includes Vodacom South Africa.

Safaricom Ethiopia has today announced that it has finally switched on its mobile telecommunications network and launched its services in Ethiopia, starting with Addis Ababa, the country’s capital.

Last year the Kenyan group won a historic bid to launch its telecommunications services in the country, which previously maintained a monopoly on the sector. Safaricom paid the Ethiopian government a reported $850 million for the license and is expected to invest a further $8.5 billion on infrastructure in the country.

The Horn of Africa subsidiary of Safaricom is also holding a ceremony today to mark the national launch which is a significant victory for Kenya’s leading telecom group and for the consortium of its partners, including South Africa’s Vodacom Group and the UK’s Vodafone, that made the launch possible in one of the continent’s strictest and most untapped telecommunication markets.

“We look forward to positively impacting the people of Ethiopia with a sustainable and quality mobile network that will be a vital launch pad for nationwide digital telecommunications services to over 118 million Ethiopians,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom.

Safaricom Ethiopia has said that its 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services are now available in 11 cities across the country today, including Addis Ababa and the second largest city Dire Dawa.

The company says it plans to continue rolling out its services and hopes to cover a total of 25 cities by April 2023 in its obligations to meet the 25% population coverage specified in its license agreement with the Ethiopian government.

To make this possible, Safaricom is building its own mobile network infrastructure and tapping into existing connections built by state-owned Ethio Telecom, previously the only telecommunications company in the country.

It is also expected to launch its incredibly successful M-PESA mobile money service to the generally unbanked population of Ethiopia, a move that could put the group’s already substantial revenues into hyperdrive.

“The Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium has worked tirelessly together with the Government of Ethiopia to reach this exciting moment in Ethiopia’s history as the country embarks upon a fully digitalised era,” said Shameel Joosub, CEO, Vodacom Group, which holds an effective 25.7% interest in the Safaricom Ethiopia business.

“I would like to congratulate Safaricom Ethiopia and all management, staff and partners involved in reaching this milestone as we seek to connect every Ethiopian to the global digital economy,” Joosub added.

Safaricom’s launch in Ethiopia hasn’t been all smooth sailing, in November last year Business Daily Africa reported that Safaricom had to pull its staff from Ethiopia fearing their safety as the armed conflict of the Tigrayan civil war reached closer to Addis Ababa. The conflict has killed thousands of people and left even more displaced.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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